Monday, January 08, 2007

Sony KDL-40V2500 LCD Calibration

This is Sony's least expensive 1080p LCD TV. It retails for $500 less than the next model up XBR. The extra dough gets you another HDMI input (3 versus 2) and a few more image enhancement features. Otherwise, it's the same panel and backlight. The 40-inch TV I calibrated is perfect for a bedroom or small den. With the high-resolution image, the ideal viewing distance is about 6-7 feet.

After beginning with the basic pluge patterns to set brightness and contrast, I then turned to the backlight control. With all the LCDs I've done so far, the best black level detail is to be found with the backlight turned to the Minimum setting. There is still plenty of light at the high end and daytime viewing is fine. In fact, I calibrated this panel in a fairly bright room with a large side window. I always recommend against using the Day/Night sensor. This feature changes the backlight levels depending on the ambient light. Sounds great in theory but in practice, the change is far too drastic resulting in very washed out blacks.

On to the service menu: I got a nice surprise here. Sony service menus are usually a collection of binary codes and very terse abbreviations. I always go in with reams of notes from my colleagues. This set is too new however so I didn't have quite as much backup as I would have liked. Wouldn't you know it, Sony decided to include a clear, graphical menu with clearly labeled controls for grayscale, image positioning and other features. I was able to achieve a Delta C* under 1.0 from 30 to 90 IRE with humps to 1.6 at 20 and 100 IRE. This is an extremely accurate grayscale tracking result. These settings were global for all inputs.

Returning to the user menu, color controls were left at defaults as the gamut and decoding were quite good. The green primary read as oversaturated but this was not evident in actual content. The best gamma (2.1) was achieved with the gamma control turned off. All other Advanced Video menu items were turned off except Black Corrector which was left at Low. The TV resolved a 1080i multi-burst pattern perfectly without any help from image enhancement settings.

The resulting image was very smooth and life-like. Details in DVDs played on the client's Oppo were crisp in both bright and dark scenes. Color and clarity from the 8300HD cable box were excellent on high-quality feeds like PBS and INDHD. All in all, the set was quite responsive to ISF calibration. It responded favorably and rewarded my efforts with an extremely accurate and clear picture. If you're looking to save a bit of cash over an XBR, the V2500 is the TV for you.

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